cover image Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude: And Other Commandments I Have Broken

Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude: And Other Commandments I Have Broken

Rosemary Graham, . . Viking, $16.99 (281pp) ISBN 978-0-670-06017-7

Graham captures some truisms about teen dating in this likable if somewhat uneven novel. Kelsey from My Not-So-Terrible Time at the Hippie Hotel , Graham's first novel, tells her own story here, as her parents' divorce causes her to move from Boston to Berkeley. When the tall, pretty and rich narrator attracts the attention of a popular skater, she enjoys starting freshman year as "C.J. Logan's Girlfriend, plucked from obscurity to be the chosen one of a guy who could have chosen anyone." But Kelsey finally bores of being his accessory, and breaking up proves hard to do: he posts a nasty message on his blog, alleging that she is a "TSF" (Total Sex Fiend) who is practically stalking him. Kelsey has to begin again, asking herself "all the big Who Am Is? you're supposed to ask yourself in high school." The author covers a lot of ground, and a few plot points seem contrived (e.g., when Kelsey joins the school paper, she profiles a homeless teen, and cannot "get her out of my head"). But the author paints a realistic picture of Kelsey and C.J.'s power dynamic: when C.J. meets Kelsey, he grabs her hair to get her to sit next to him, and Kelsey neglects her best friend during her romantic crisis when C.J. asks Kelsey to turn off her cell phone. In the end, this novel delivers plenty of lessons, but Kelsey's honest narration will bring readers along with her as she learns them. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)